Transitioning Laid-Off Candidates to New Roles

January 10, 2024

In 2023, we’ve experienced one of the most challenging environments for the tech market as the market itself goes through a correction and every company must evaluate what they stand for and how they will do business (focus on growth, retention, and/or profitability). With close to 300,000 layoffs in 2023, we’re constantly asked from sales career seekers across industries and alum in tech how they think about going into a new role, or for top performers, how should they be prepared should their “time” come.

For LaunchSource, we’ve recommended that candidates go into roles anticipating that they could be laid off within 6 months so to ensure they are documenting their successes, failures, and overall work as they continue. For leaders whether you are on the HR side of an early-stage startup that was supposed to be “high-growth” or sales managers – the timing is never great to lay off folks but the support that you provide during this transition will be critical and memorable for your fellow teammates. Here are some easy ways that you can support someone on your team that you’ve been informed that you have to lay off.

In today's rapidly evolving tech industry, managers often find themselves faced with tough decisions, including the need to lay off team members. When it comes to letting go of sales reps, a thoughtful and strategic approach can make all the difference in both the lives of those affected and the overall health of your organization. Transitioning laid-off candidates to new roles is not just a responsibility—it's an opportunity for growth and mutual success.

1. Provide Career Support: A sudden job loss can be unsettling, especially for young professionals. As a manager, take the time to offer emotional support, confirm career goals, be transparent about the market, provide access to your network as appropriate and offer career guidance. By demonstrating genuine care, you can help ease the transition and maintain positive relationships. In sales as many of us know, networks are critical and if you are letting go of a top performer or someone who has potential, you want to make sure to think about potentially working together in the future in another capacity. 

2. Identify Transferable Skills: For some individuals, this may be an opportunity to make a switch into a new industry or new role (ex: SDR to Customer Success). Once you re-confirm the individuals' career goals, identify and articulate their strengths and transferable skills. Sales reps may have developed transferable skills such as communication, negotiation, and relationship-building under your leadership. Help them identify these strengths and explore how they can be applied to other roles or other industries as relevant. 

3. Continued Skill Enhancement: While it can be emotionally daunting to be laid off, if you’re dealing with an early-career sales candidate, offer training opportunities or recommend online courses that can help reps acquire new skills while demonstrating a “self-starter” approach during a transition. There’s no better way to impress a new manager by letting someone know that while you were laid off, you organized your time to strengthen your skills and background. We like to recommend candidates take LinkedIn Learnings on diversity such as Communicating about Culturally Sensitive Issues and reading books like Atomic Habits, a favorite from the LaunchSource network, and posting their learnings via LinkedIn.
Offer training opportunities or recommend online courses that can help sales reps acquire new skills relevant to their desired roles. This investment in their development not only enhances their employability but also reinforces your commitment to their success.

4. Networking Assistance: Introduce your laid-off team members to your professional network. Connect them with colleagues, mentors, and industry peers who might have relevant openings or insights. Networking can open doors to opportunities that might not be publicly advertised.

5. Resume and Interview Coaching: Laid-off candidates might need assistance with updating their resumes and preparing for interviews. Share best practices, review their resumes, and conduct mock interviews to boost their confidence.

6. Encourage Resilience: Job transitions can be challenging, but they can also be transformative. Remind your former team members that setbacks are a natural part of any career journey and that their resilience and adaptability will drive their success.

In conclusion, as a manager, your role goes beyond delivering bad news—it's about fostering growth and supporting your team members in their pursuit of new opportunities. By providing emotional support, identifying transferable skills, facilitating skill enhancement, assisting with networking, and offering career coaching, you can turn a difficult situation into a chance for personal and professional advancement. Remember, a company's commitment to its employees extends well beyond employment, making their success an ongoing reflection of your leadership.